Front Seat Gamer Dad

While colleague Mirko explained in his wonderful article Back Seat Gamer Mum how he was nevertheless able to give his mother a deeper insight into the world of video games after years of skepticism, this anecdote starts with completely different preconditions. Ever since I can remember, my father has been playing video games. Mainly the kind of video games that I myself have always given a wide berth to: building simulations and racing games. He’s quite good at that (I think). It always becomes problematic when genre boundaries blur and more action-heavy elements make their way in. Grand Theft Auto 5, which he has been playing again and again on his Xbox One for some time now, can be mentioned as a perfect example. Sure, there are cars and numerous racing options, but the action part within the game very clearly predominates. Not to my father’s advantage.

A few weeks ago he told me on the phone about his problems with GTA 5. He got stuck on a mission that is really almost at the very beginning of the game. Shooting and driving at the same time. Even for experienced gamers, due to the really awkward stick control, not a real pleasure – and certainly not for my father. It’s practically a tradition that the current (parental) video game problems are cleared up during a visit to my parents. For my mother it’s usually about some bosses in various jump and run games, for my father it’s about some action passages involving guns. Due to the Covid a timely visit on my part was not on the schedule, which is why I had to put him off. The consultation over the phone was unsuccessful: My father wasn’t sure whether he had already completed missions with Franklin, and he hadn’t heard anything about Trevor, the third unlockable character – at least that’s what he thought. Besides, the story progress wouldn’t interest him anyway. He just wanted to get his hands on a small apartment and a small garage. For his two favorite cars. I still had to put him off.

He was all the prouder during a following phone call two weeks later: He had earned money. He had amassed about $75,000 with Michael. Not by completing missions. Not by robbing stores or armored money trucks. No, my father had spent the past two weeks working as an honest cab driver in Los Santos. $75,000 is a lot of money when you consider that an average cab ride brings in between $150 – $220. How many hours of gameplay (there must have been over 350 cab rides!) went into that, I’d rather not even know. It’s about time to visit my parents.

Grand Theft Auto 5 was released almost eight years ago. Nevertheless, the game still enjoys immense popularity. Originally released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the title will also be released once again for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X later this year. The follow-up-follow-up consoles.

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